Retired Aldergrove teacher Marya Sopova holds a charcoal sketch which a young student made of Aldergrove Elementary School 40 years ago.

Teacher hopes to reunite ‘heritage’ art with student

Retired teacher Marya Sopova has fond memories of a student’s charcoal sketch which has hung on her living room wall since 1973.

Retired teacher Marya Sopova (Shellard) has fond memories of a student’s charcoal sketch which has hung on her living room wall since 1973.

Now Sopova searches for the then aspiring six year old artist, Ken Lawrence. She wants to show him his fine work which he created during her first year teaching at Aldergrove Elementary School, after graduating from UBC.

She hopes that Ken Lawrence, who attended Aldergrove Elementary, and was in Sopova’s class in a portable situated behind Aldergrove Elementary School, will come forward to claim his charcoal sketch.

Gazing with admiration at the sketch, Sopova reminisces how it happened. One sunny fall day in 1973, she had held an art lesson outside the portable with her students. The children were instructed to sketch anything that appealed to them in their surroundings, using charcoal as the medium, for this art project.

That’s when Ken Lawrence, recollects Sopova, sat on the grass and with great enthusiasm began sketching the portable and Aldergrove Elementary School in the background. She recalls how this little boy only lifted his head now and then, to examine his subject, as he earnestly sketched.

Sopova thought that his charcoal sketch was quite mature for a six year old and entered it in a local art contest. She wasn’t surprised when his sketch was awarded “first” (printed on blue and stapled in the left hand corner of the sketch in 1973).

Ken, she recalls, had little appreciation of his piece of art, didn’t want to carry it home, and at the end of the day Sopova found the sketch in the waste basket beside her desk. Holding it by a corner, slowly and gently she lifted the sketch from the basket. Smoothing out the folds, she placed it on her desk. The following day Sopova offered Ken $5 for it and he accepted with a smile. She had the charcoal sketch specially sprayed for preservation and framed, within the same year.

Recently Sopova moved to Aldergrove from White Rock to a place already familiar to her as she had also taught at Parkside Elementary and Alice Brown Elementary schools. She decided to search for Ken Lawrence to see if he’d like to view his piece of wonderful work and perhaps even take it home with him this time.

If anyone knows the whereabouts of Ken Lawrence, please email Sopova at:

Like this precious piece of student’s art, teaching holds many pleasant memories for Sopova. Finding it hard to accept retirement, she has kept her finger in education by writing children’s stories.

Motivated by her years of experience as a reading teacher with a master’s degree in this important subject, she published her first children’s novel, The MouseTronaut (ages 8-11), accompanied by the Rocket of Fun workbook, four years ago. This educational package, chock full of humour, helps elementary school students to maintain their reading skills through entertainment and adventure.

The MouseTronaut was selected by White Rock Semiahmoo Arts Council for a kick-off to a literary event in September 2010.

Late December of 2014, Sopova published her second novel, Washalot, about a raccoon family set in Aldergrove Park. This picture book, with vibrant illustrations, is to be read to pre-schoolers. It Includes is a helpful page of suggestions on how to engage a young child in story reading.

The picture book encourages attending behaviour, helps develop listening skills, enhances vocabulary, nourishes literacy, and promotes reading growth.

Sopova is now working to polish a play, Santa Goofs-up, a comedy which she has directed at three different schools. She hopes to finish it in time for Christmas 2015 and  perhaps have it performed at an elementary school in Aldergrove as a fund-raiser.

For information about these children books, please e-mail Sopova at:

Sopova will donate 20 per cent of the book profits to the Aldergrove Food Bank.

Marya Sopova’s new book, “Washalot.”

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